Coronavirus: 438 new cases reported as HSE indicates people in 40s will not get AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines

Paul Reid says almost 300,000 people in the State will be vaccinated in the coming week

HSE chief executive Paul  Reid said   people in their 40s were already being called for their  vaccination. Photograph: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said people in their 40s were already being called for their vaccination. Photograph: Sam Boal / Photocall Ireland

 

There were 438 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the State on Sunday. The number of Covid patients in ICU rose by one to 43, with a total of 116 in hospital.

It comes as the chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has indicated the organisation will not be administering AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines to people in their 40s.

Currently, the use of the two vaccines is limited to those aged 50 and over, but revised advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) had cleared the way for their use on those in the 40 to 49 year age group under strict conditions.

The restrictions were applied after a link was identified between the vaccines and very rare serious blood clots.

The HSE has been tasked with “operationalising” this recommendation in the context of limited or uncertain future supplies of the two vaccines, and stable deliveries of the other two authorised vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Reid said the HSE has already started calling forward people in their 40s for vaccination.

Under the Niac advice, a person could be offered the Janssen or AstraZeneca vaccines if they were available in advance of the other two vaccines.

But he said “we really don’t see that as a factor now for ourselves” because of the progress made in the overall vaccine rollout. Most AstraZeneca supplies will be used for second doses, while there is only a “limited supply” of Janssen.

Almost 300,000 people will be vaccinated in the coming week, he pointed out. Progress on vaccinations is “really strong” with well over 2.4 million people having received at least one dose.

Asked about warnings by public health officials in the mid-west of a rise in Covid-19 cases, Mr Reid told RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme it was an “early warning for everybody that this is very much still with us”.

The number of swabs taken on Saturday was up 23 per cent on the same day last week, he pointed out.

Prof Brian MacCraith said on Sunday 45 per cent of adults have had their first dose and 15 per cent are fully vaccinated. The cyberattack has limited the available data on vaccinations.

In Northern Ireland there have been 77 additional positive cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, according to the Department of Health. No further deaths have been recorded.

A total of 1,624,053 vaccine doses have been administered in Northern Ireland to date.– Additional reporting: PA